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Monitoring of financial behavior of households: economic sociology approach

Priority areas of development: sociology
Department: Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology

Research object: Russians 18+.

Research purpose: The conduction of socio-economic monitoring of the Russian population’s financial behavior.

Empirical base of the research: A nationwide survey of the population, representing the adult (over 18) population of the Russian Federation in terms of gender, age, employment status and the type of settlement in which the respondent lives, as well as some federal districts of Russia. The scheme provides a sample of respondents with the following characteristics:

  • The total numper of people surveyed - 1,600,
  • The number of subjects of the Russian Federation, in which the sample is realized - at least 40;
  • The number of settlements (administrative territorial units - ATE) - at least 150;
  • The number of respondents in one settlement (ATE) - at least five people.
  • sampling error - 3.4%

Date of the survey - October-November 2012

Research results:

Savings of the population.

At present time, 35% of Russian households have relatively free cash. However the propensity to save that was observed in the past four years is characterized by its asymmetry. It is known from the surveys that 80% of not high-income households did not have savings and still do not have any, so the increase in the share of those who have savings is due to the high-income groups of the population. There is a rise in the savings volume in all income groups,  and in the extreme groups the raise was to approximately the same degree -  1.8 times. However the decline in differentiation of savings volume did not happen despite the fact that there was some increase in the number of savers.  In 2013, as in 2010, the savings of the most high-income groups are 3 times bigger than the savings of low-income groups.

The use of credit and the level of over-indebtedness of Russians.

The Russian population has the lowest rate of penetration of loans and the amounts of consumer debts among developed and developing countries. However due to the structure of the credit process – most of them are consumer loans that are characterized with higher rates and short credit terms – the share of borrowers with a high level of loan is much higher compared to many other countries. Moreover, this indicator is especially high in small population areas.

Plastic bank cards and electronic money.

The spread of bank cards among the population has almost stopped – the share of those with a card remains the same compared to the previous year (63%). Despite the fact that the number of card holders has not changed during the last year, the practices of card usage are still changing. The share of people who use the card for cashless payments for goods and services in Russia has changed from 38% to 48%, the share of those who use the card for online shopping of goods or services – from 14% to 20% and the share of those who pay the bills from cash machines (ATM) – from 44% to 49%.  The share of people who pay with the bank card in stores is also growing, although people generally use the card when they have no cash. Among the reasons for not using a bank card in shops is the lack of development of infrastructure that in general could restrain the growth of this market.

The usage of other forms of electronic money was marked by the following trends. The popularity of electronic payments systems is growing – during the last two years the share of users more than doubled, to 16%. There are no changes in mobile payments and Internet-banking practices.

Financial strategies of Russians.

The financial horizon planning of Russians is extremely short. Thus in the November 2013, 58% of Russians planned only for half a year ahead, while only 14% are thinking about a longer period of time –  one year ahead or further. Almost the half of population in Russia (48%) has long-term objectives. But even those who have such objectives often do not have a particular plan or strategy for achieving these objectives, or else their strategies are not effective. Only 32% of respondents in the total sample have a strategy for achievement of existing objectives and follow them .

There is a connection between financial strategizing and financial behavior – there is a higher share of respondents who have long-term financial objectives and the strategies of achievements among savers and borrowers.

Pension strategies of Russians.

In 2013 only 5% of Russian who were of working age and did not take early retirement were sure that the amount of state pension would be enough to live on. 23% were not sure but hoped that it would be enough. 56% of future pensioners are going to compensate the future lack of income through additional earnings, and the financial strategies of pension savings are not widespread – only 10% are going to rely on their savings or receive non-state pension after retirement. The most popular strategy is to continue working – almost ehalf the respondents (47%) are going to continue work while receiving a pension. Since 2005, there has been a rise in the popularity of financial strategies of pension saving but still they are not as popular as working strategies.  

Financial literacy of population.

According to the data that we have from monitoring of different indicators of financial literacy of Russian population (2008-2013) there were no changes during that time – and the level is low. Only a quarter of Russians keep a record of their finances, before the crisis the share was twice as large. In November 2013 there were no changes in responding to the question concerning the signing of contracts with financial organizations. Only 35% are acting prudently and signing contracts. The population has poor knowledge and understanding about the National Deposit Insurance System and what kind of assets it insures – only 20% of Russians during the whole period of monitoring responded correctly that it is insurance for bank deposits. On the plus side, during the last three years there has been a decrease of people who think that the National Deposit Insurance System is protecting the deposits in any financial organization (from 16% in 2009 to 10% in 2012-2013).

In 2013 27% correct identified the connection between risk and yield. The number of those who think that risk and yield are not connected is only 16%.

Based on the observations that were made, we can confirm the previously made conclusion that the launch of a mechanism for increasing financial literacy on behalf of the state should be carreid out cautiously because increasing the information on financial and economic topics during the realization of financial literacy increasing programs may lead to an increase of confidence of consumers while their actual competence remains at the same level.

Implementation of the research results:

Participation in conferences:

Ибрагимова Д.Х. XIV Апрельская международная научная конференция по проблемам развития экономики и общества, 2.04.2013 - 5.04.2013, Москва, доклад «Финансы семьи: кто распорядитель?»

Кузина О.Е. II Всероссийская Конференция «Судебная реструктуризация задолженности. Институт банкротства физических лиц в России», 6.02.2013 Москва, доклад «Пользование банковскими кредитами и долговая нагрузка физических лиц (2009-2012 гг)»

Кузина О.Е. VII Конференция памяти Юрия Левады «Современное российское общество и социология», 1.04.2013, Москва, доклад «Финансовая грамотность россиян: дилемма патернализма и индивидуализма»

Кузина О.Е. XIV Апрельская международная научная конференция по проблемам развития экономики и общества, 2.04.2013 - 5.04.2013, Москва, доклад «Влияние социально-демографических характеристик и субъективных представлений на пенсионные стратегии россиян»

O.Kuzina The conference ESA 2013 – Crisis, Critique and Change, 28-31 August 2013, The level of financial literacy of Russians (2008-2012).

Кузина О.Е. Круглый стол «Программы повышения финансовой грамотности населения: достижения и проблемы», проводился в рамках "МОСИНТЕРФИН – 2013", 16 октября 2013 г. Тема выступления - "Уровень финансовой грамотности россиян (2008-2012 гг.)

N. Khalina The conference ESA 2013 – Crisis, Critique and Change, 28-31 August 2013, «New» means of payments: use of cashless payments in Russia

5.    International partners:


Alya Guseva

Boston University





Nigel Dodd

London School of Economics

Seniour Lecturer




Кузина О. Е. Динамика пенсионных стратегий населения за 2005-2012 гг. // Мир России: Социология, этнология. 2013. Т. 22. № 4. C. 118-147. 
Халина Н. В. Электронные деньги в России: восприятие населением современных способов платежей // Мониторинг общественного мнения: Экономические и социальные перемены. 2013. № 2 (114). C. 122-130. 
Kuzina O., Dodd N. How do lay consumers and households understand financial strategising? // Corvinus Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 2014. Vol. 5. No. 1. P. 89-114. 
Kuzina O. E., Dodd N. How do lay consumers and households understand financial strategizing? // Corvinus Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 2014. Vol. 5. No. 1. P. 89-114. doi